A heartwarmer for the holidays

Elsa and Anna are the loving sisters in ‘Frozen 2’. Press photo

By Wendell Gaa

When the now classic “Frozen” movie was released in 2013, the public embraced it with such heart and fervor that it became one of Disney’s finest contemporary animated fairy tale hits. It entered the pop cultural mindset to such an extent that children instantaneously became familiar with the story of Anna and Elsa, two sisters who live in the Kingdom of Arendelle which is presumably located somewhere in the Scandinavian European region. 

Based on the classic children’s literature piece “The Snow Queen” by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, the soundtrack of “Frozen” greatly benefitted from the talents of New York-born FilAm songwriter Robert Lopez, who is one of the few members of Hollywood’s elite club of winners in all four awards categories of Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony (EGOT).

“Frozen II” continues the adventures of the loving sisters.  After having overcome the adversities they faced in the first film, Elsa who is gifted with ice-making powers now oversees the daily affairs of Arendelle as its queen, while Anna grows a budding romantic relationship with her best friend Kristoff, the ice harvester.  Also back for another round of good humor is Olaf the goofy magical snowman and Sven, Kristoff’s ever loyal reindeer. 

The film’s opening sequence provides the catalyst for the plot with a flashback depicting King Agnarr, the father of Anna and Elsa, who tells his daughters of the story of their grandfather King Runeard, who had forged a peace treaty with the people of a neighboring tribe called Northuldra through constructing a dam in their home territory, known as the Enchanted Forest.  But then a misunderstanding occurs between the two groups, and war ensues resulting in King Runeard’s death.  This conflict angers the Forest’s elemental spirits of Earth, Fire, Water and Air, and a wall of mist then traps everyone in the Enchanted Forest as punishment.

Tony Award winner Idina Menzel is Elsa’s singing voice. She is shown here with FilAm Broadway fan  Maricel Salubayba.

Anna and Elsa soon discover that the only way to end the mysterious force affecting their kingdom is to follow a mystical voice and to embark on an adventure into the Enchanted Forest to unravel more truth.

I really enjoyed “Frozen II,” and though I didn’t feel it was necessary for Disney to produce yet another sequel so soon, this is a worthy follow-up. I didn’t care too much about the intricacies of the plot as I was entranced with the progressive character development here.  What has always made “Frozen” unique for me is that unlike so many of the past movies starring female protagonists, the heart of the story of Anna and Elsa has always been about their strong sister relationship, rather than the oftentimes used “prince meets princess” romantic narrative.  “Frozen II” furthers the exploration of the bond between the two leads and leaves room for the growing understanding and compassion between them. 

Kristen Bell, an actress whom I adored in the teen detective series “Veronica Mars,” offers much warmth and life as the voice of Anna.  The supporting characters here are also given their dues, particularly Kristoff who amusingly struggles with his desire to propose marriage to Anna.  Josh Gad as the voice of Olaf continues to brilliantly and convincingly pull off the comic relief role. 

I didn’t find the overall musical score to be quite as catchy and memorable as in the first film, except for one showstopper called “Into the Unknown” sung by Elsa as she contemplates following the magical voice.  Talented actress and singer Idina Menzel, who voices Elsa, performs this song with such bravado and gusto. I cannot imagine young girls singing this song either in concerts or in karaoke bars the way “Let It Go” became such a popular hit, it’s still a memorable number. I hope to see Robert Lopez win yet another Oscar for this music. 

© The FilAm 2019

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